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Psychiatric Patients

Volume 961: debated on Friday 26 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what guidance he has given to psychiatrists and others working in psychiatric hospitals on the validity of consent to treatment by patients who are heavily drugged at the time they are asked to sign a consent form.

None. Doctors are legally and ethically responsible for the treatment of their patients, and for obtaining appropriate consent to treatment. The medical defence association—to which all hospital doctors are required to belong—advise doctors on their legal liabilities and ethical obligations in relation to obtaining appropriate consent to treatment. The Department does not usually give guidance on these matters, but chapter 6 of the Government's White Paper on the review of the Mental Health Act 1959 discusses certain problems related to consent to treatment by psychiatric patients, especially those detained under statutory powers.